ASHLAND RESIDENCE || Masterful Use of Natural Light

Fill this blank space.

What would you do if you were faced with such a challenge? In this case Hsu McCullough were asked to fill a 'blank space' between an existing masonry home and the garage with a 2-storey addition to accommodate a family in need of more space. 

Los Angeles architecture and interior design firm Hsu McCullough had previously worked on the Ashland Residence by providing a full alteration to the 1906 masonry home six years earlier. 

More room was needed to accommodate a growing family and lifestyle with more shared, blended family areas, which isn’t often an option in south Santa Monica space-challenged beachside neighborhoods. The homeowners also wanted as much outdoor recreational square footage as possible. Hsu McCullough’s novel solution scaled up and over the phase 1 footprint, making full use of the space between existing structures with a contemporary structure that looks to span between the garage and Phase I remodel. The dark plaster exterior and painted brick of the Phase I remodel creates a frame for the smooth white plaster of Phase II infill and rest on top of.

The Phase I dark plaster exterior.

The Phase II added two stories of living space including a distinguishing sky-frame outlining a spectacular view to the south over an outdoor family deck and a second story master suite with a private yoga/meditation deck.  At the first floor, a den, a dining room with exterior access, kitchen and feature staircase infilled the space between the garage and main brick house to connect the traditional and modern styles. 

The Phase II white exterior linking to the garage space, which was part of the existing structure.

The pleasing hybrid of modern and traditional styles are mirrored in the interiors with the extensive use of wood and filtered natural light to bind areas of the past with the present supported by a timeless material palette of Carrara stone, Oak cabinets, Oak butcher block island, texture white subway tiles and white Oak floors.  

The Phase II in-fill entry to the kitchen and dining area.

The highlight of the space is how every room is bathed in natural light. From the moment you enter from the entrance into the dining and kitchen area, floor-to-ceiling windows at the dining and stairwell area bring light in.

The centrepiece in the beautiful kitchen area would be an illuminating oak-lined lightwell, capped with a skylight, carving through the second floor and is centered on the island with an emerging cluster of custom clay pendants from Heather Levine Ceramics. 

Cle tile wraps the vertical surfaces of the backsplash, range vent hood shroud and is complimented with modern stainless-steel appliances and Carrara White marble counters with a waterfall edge. Other notable details include the extra storage space built into the kitchen island, and the feature staircase, where natural light is again filtered into the kitchen, creating a much more open space in comparison to having a solid wall divide.

The reason why we have chosen to feature all three angles of the kitchen space is because of the masterful design of the lightwell, one must show its simple yet intricate design from each angle. The last view also shows how the designers used every nook thoughtfully to provide ample storage space, such as the entry nook where there is a seating space for one to put shoes on and to quickly clean up the entry space prior to welcoming house guests. 

The furnishings in the den area suggest comfort for the whole family, with the spacious L-shaped sofa. Ample shelving houses all the literature for the family, methodically arranged in an aesthetically pleasing, colour-coded way. Again, the designers provided a window to draw light into the den, since the black wall sections off some of the light from the entry space.

Past the kitchen and den area in the Phase II addition, you enter into the Phase I existing structure, where a similar filtered light technique creates a relaxing family space. The seemingly unintentional mix of different coloured wood in the family room, with doors blending into the wall creates a lived-in and relaxing mood.

The doors connecting to the Phase II area provide a line of sight to the stairwell light; it makes visitors feel as if the flow of light, and not just the choice of materials, is what provides continuity between the old and new. 

Speaking of a line of sight to the feature stairwell, it is our favourite space in the new addition, because of its ability to provide a sense of security with the structure, while its filtered design bathes the entire kitchen in a natural warmth and keeps the living space open and airy.

The ceramics and art pieces showcased on the wooden planks of the staircase makes expert use of the white space - notice not every spot has a showcase piece, and this makes the overall presentation more elegant.

The double-height ceiling at the staircase area has windows stretching to the top, and greenery can be found at the foot and at the top of the stairs, a small decorative detail to bring nature in. 

Even before stepping out onto the family outdoor deck, these expertly framed outdoor views prepare you for the breathtaking view. 

The beautiful view from the second floor terrace connected to the master bedroom.

The Ashland Residence project highlights the masterful design skills of the Hsu McCullough team. It is not easy to recreate the feeling of a lived-in home, and yet this team has managed to do so perfectly, from the layout, to the lines of light used in Phase I and II to bind the living spaces together. While the Phase II is 'new', if one walked through the entire home, they would agree that the space feels 'whole'. 

We want to thank the team for sharing this beautiful project with us. They have also kindly provided a site plan to allow our readers to better navigate the spaces in the complete structure. 

Photos courtesy of Hsu McCullough and photographers Dan Arnold and Clark Dugger. View more work from Hsu McCullough here